ne of the best tools for freelancer benefits is shutting down. 

Catch.co, the best online software to help freelancers manage their own payroll and benefits,  is closing its doors.

This is sad news because I can honestly say that there’s nothing quite as simple and comprehensive to help freelancers manage their own payroll, savings, and withholdings as Catch.co has been. 

When, Why & What it means
On Monday, March 6th, Catch.co, the personal payroll and benefits service for self-employed professionals, announced that they were ceasing operations.

The important thing to highlight is that they’re getting ahead of the issue by giving their community of small businesses enough time to move withholdings and benefits (money) off platform before they officially close up shop.  It’s unfortunate when great freelancer tools don’t make it and Catch.co was one of the good ones, doing their very best to create real change for the community of self-employed folks they served. 
We wish their team the very best!

Steps Catch.co Users should take

You should login to your Catch account and check your balances and withdraw from your savings/time-off accounts by April 6th, 2023. It’s important to note that their retirement plans are through Goldman Sachs, and you’ll receive a separate email regarding your retirement account that you’ve been depositing into while a customer of Catch.co.

You’ll want to file your business taxes soon for this past fiscal quarter (and year).  For individuals, this is by April 18th 2023, and for multi-member LLCs or S Corp partnerships, by March 15th 2023.

1. Go ahead, login and verify each balance of your benefits:

2. Note your upcoming quarterly tax period (in my case, April 13th)

When you’ve completed these steps, you’ll be able to focus on switching over to new payroll software to carry you going forward.

List of Catch.Co alternatives (Payroll for Self-employed)

The "DIY" Approach

If you’re self-employed, one obvious alternative worth mentioning is tracking your benefits and moving funds across accounts yourself.

Why DIY? Many online payroll services offer budgeting software layered on top of their other finance products, allowing them to monetize (your) money that they’re holding. Many services often require you to open accounts through a banking partner, which in the U.S. are usually FDIC insured up to $250,000. This is a much safer option compared to some other services out there.

For HR / Payroll software platforms that do enroll you with partner banks, they may offer you up to a 1% savings rate. However, if you choose to manage your own funds with a bank account that you set up, you can fetch a 3% - 5% return at many banks through no-penalty CDs (fee-free early withdrawal). Below is a step by step guide on how someone can freely track their payments & benefits via Airtable with Stripe. It’s worth a look because budgeting on your own ultimately gives you more control over your money and account savings rate at the end of the day.

More Tools to help you manage your own Benefits, Savings, Taxes, and Payroll: 

Honorable Mention:  Mint.Com (by Intuit)

Pricing:  Offers Free or Mint Premium for $4.99/mo

While it’s technically not payroll software or specific for business use, Mint is tremendously useful for personal finances.  It allows you to bring all of your accounts into a unified dashboard, tracking expenses and setting budgets from there.  It’s not going to give you tax recommendations or help you move money, but it’s part of the Intuit ecosystem and it’s free. We’re not sponsored by Mint, we just happen to like their software.

If that all sounds complicated and you appreciate the convenience of automatically handling tax compliance and not getting blindsided by tax bills (because of course that could happen), well, you’re in luck.  There are great (but paid) options that you can use instead.

Self-Employed Payroll software

#1 Tied - Intuit Quickbooks + Payroll Core

Pricing:  $22.50/mo + $5 per additional employee / contractor

Many people already use Intuit Turbotax to do their taxes or Quickbooks to manage invoicing, but the true value of the Intuit product suite is the ability to do everything under one roof. Their pricing is the friendliest for small businesses and it’s easy to add features only when you need them.  The only downside perhaps is that you’re locked into using Quickbooks versus other tools that you may want to use.

#1 Tied - GustoHQ

Pricing:  $40/mo + $6 per additional employee / contractor

Gusto (formerly ZenPayroll) took the world by storm in 2012, and within a year of launching had $100M+ in payroll, and they continue to grow today.  In many ways, Gusto pioneered making payroll software accessible in an era of legacy payroll systems that mainly catered to brick-and-mortar firms.  They now serve tens of thousands of businesses, many of whom are self-employed creative professionals - a growing profile of the online era.  Their pricing is friendly to businesses that may bring on the occasional contractor.  With Gusto, they don’t have to worry about hundreds of dollars in surprise enterprise package software fees.
Additional perks:  Access through their brokers medical, dental and vision plans

Onboarding link:

* This affiliate link offers the same Gusto rates, but helps fund free events & tools for the creative community

#2 - Paychex - Small Business

Pricing:  Get Quote; starts as low as $39/mo + $5 per additional employee / contractor

Paychex is one of the oldest & biggest names in the business— they continue to innovate and are custom-obsessed.  They’re one of the few technology companies that serve on open committees to help pilot industry technology standards so that fintech & payroll companies can continue to improve the convenience and security, including same-day ACH standards.  They have a robust platform and security center, which is why they’re one of the most trusted names out there.  They’ve recently made a big push toward online-first, and they continue to bring on more users adding to their 730K+ customer base.

Paychex also offers mature plans for benefits management, including medical and retirement planning.

#3 - Trinet Zenefits + Payroll addon

Pricing:  $16 / mo + $6 per additional employee / contractor

Zenefits (acquired by Trinet in 2022) has largely made a name with its contractor / employee onboarding feature, but it also offers module add-ons, namely its Payroll management.  The simplicity and amazing price make it an attractive option compared to most options on the market.  It may seem a tad overkill for self-employed businesses who don’t need things like employee scheduling software, but it’s only a feature.

#4 - OnPay

Pricing:  $40/mo + $6 per additional employee / contractor

OnPay has a lot of feature overlap with Gusto- with some additional perks, such as no fees for multi-state payroll.  They’re not taking the #1 spot only because as of now (March 2023) they don’t offer non-US support as most of the other names mentioned here do.  They might satisfy most people’s needs in spite of this, but they’re continuing to grow and are certainly worth keeping an eye on!

Are You a Creative Professional?

We don’t provide the financial planning support of Catch.co, but Basil is a work support platform that helps creative professionals automate their client bookings, scopes of work, terms, scheduling, deposits & payments, all in one seamless flow.  It’s free to set up and we have lots of creative templates to get you started.

And once that fresh stack of money hits your account, you can use any of the tools above to manage your financial future, benefits, and taxes.  Use Basil payments or pair with your preferred invoicing tool (although we’re cheaper than Wave invoicing & freer than Bonsai).


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